In the early stages of her career, Agatha Christie was known for writing engaging whodunits full of lively characters and utterly madcap plot twists. As she matured as a writer, however, Dame Agatha became less interested in zany new ways to kill the dead bodies, and more interested in pursuing heady philosophical investigations about the nature of justice. Many of the stories from her middle period have barely any mystery to them at all; the cast is so small and the events so clear that the focus becomes less on trying to figure out who the killer is and more on investigating the killer’s motivation and that of the detective exposing the truth — as often as not that indefatigable Belgian, Hercule Poirot.
All of which brings us to Curtain. Written at the peak of Dame Agatha’s career (though not published until the end), Curtain opposes Poirot with a villain who is utterly and unapologetically evil, who commits heinous crimes for the sheer pleasure of it, who cannot be dissuaded, and whose crimes, by their very nature, are beyond the reach of the law. If you’ve never read Curtain, beware the rest of this post, as it will be filled with spoilers. If you have, however (or if you don’t care), read on as we explore what Dame Agatha had to teach us about the relationship of justice, the non-aggression principle, and morality.
Dr. Thomas J. DiLorenzo’s new book, The Problem With Socialism, hardly could have come at a better time; the socialist fever is riding high in the United States, with demagogues like Vermont senator Bernie Sanders selling the idea that ancient, discredited economic philosophies are somehow the wave of the future, while simultaneously telling people that the failed government economic planning that has dominated most of our lifetimes is somehow a function of "capitalism." Those of us who value the truth are always in need of new weapons in our arsenal, and this book is a valuable addition.
The Problem With Socialism is a short book, clearly designed for a popular and not a scholarly audience — if you’re looking for a deep philosophical disquisition about the flaws and failures inherent in socialism, Ludwig von Mises’ 1922 classic Socialism remains the gold standard in the field. The Mises book, of course, is six hundred pages long and dense in the way that only German philosophy can be, and requires days if not weeks of study to comprehend, making it unsuitable for people who want a quick introduction to the field, or for giving to one’s friends or children who have become "socialism-curious;" they’ll simply never read it. DiLorenzo’s book, on the other hand, is admirably suited to the task, fluidly written, easily readable in one setting and accessible enough that even a socialist could understand it.